The "In Cold Blood" Murders - 1959

Nov 15, 2012 - by - 0 Comments

Richard Hickcock & Perry Smith

Richard Hickock & Perry Smith

by Michael Thomas Barry

On November 15, 1959, four members of the Clutter family were bound, gagged, and shot to death in their isolated farm home in Holcomb, Kansas. On the morning after the murders, the bodies of four members of the Clutter family: Herbert, his wife Bonnie Jean, daughter Nancy, and son Kenyan, were discovered by a friend of Nancy's after efforts to rouse them for church had failed.

In the ensuing police investigation it was found that the family had been murdered during the night. Telephone lines had been cut, but there was no sign of a struggle. For a long time, the police looked for a motive, but could find none because the act was committed by two transients who never even knew the Clutters. 

Richard Hickock first heard about the Clutter family from a prison mate and former employee of Herbert Clutter, Floyd Wells. Wells led Hickock to believe that Clutter, a wealthy farmer, kept a considerable amount of money hidden in a safe in his home. He told this to fellow inmate Perry Smith, and upon their release from prison, the two conspired to rob the place. Hitchcock and Smith drove 400 miles to the Clutter home with the intent to get the contents of the safe. The two bound and tied the members of the family and demanded money. But the rumors were wrong, and Herbert Clutter did not keep his cash on the premises. In an act of incredible violence, they then shot the four Clutter family members Herbert, his wife, Bonnie, 16 year old Nancy, and 15 year old Kenyon. Bonnie and Nancy were found shot in their bedrooms. Herb and Kenyon had been taken to the basement, where it appeared Herb had also been tortured and his throat cut before his shooting. The murders netted the killers $40.00, a radio and a pair of binoculars. Two months later, information derived from Floyd Wells led the police on the trail of Hickock and Smith, who were soon apprehended on December 30, 1959 near Las Vegas. Both men were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to death. On April 15, 1965, both men were hanged for their crimes. The murders were later fictionalized by Truman Capote in his bestselling novel In Cold Blood (1966).

 

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